A wrong-way crash Friday morning in the West Valley left two people dead and prompted the closure of a portion of Loop 303 for several hours.
Arizona Department of Public Safety officials say the crash occurred just before 4 a.m. along southbound L-303 near Bethany Home Road.
A wrong-way driver in a pickup truck, identified as 21-year-old Fabian Javier Grimaldo, was traveling northbound in the southbound lanes when his truck collided with an SUV. DPS says the SUV driver, identified as 61-year-old Brian Vaughn of Surprise, died at the scene.
The driver and passenger of the wrong-way truck were taken to a hospital, where the passenger, identified as 21-year-old Joaquin Santiago Ruiz of Phoenix, died from his injuries.
Officials say the wrong-way driver is suspected of impairment and remains in the hospital.
Grimaldo was booked on two counts of manslaughter and one count of criminal damage.
Authorities were alerted of the wrong-way driver by other drivers who called it in. DPS says the Flux Alert system, used to detect wrong-way drivers, did not alert them of the incident.
UPDATE to deadly wrong-way crash: ADOT tells me this stretch of Loop 303 DOES have thermal cameras that are supposed to alert drivers of a wrong-way driver. ADOT says the cameras did NOT detect a wrong-way car at an off-ramp. @abc15 https://t.co/MHPAKKAxsA pic.twitter.com/LNh5o4JiQR— Claudia Rupcich (@ClaudiaRupcich) January 28, 2022
Traffic was blocked in the area for several hours with southbound drivers being diverted off the L-303 at Bethany Home Road. The roadway reopened just before 9 a.m.